What Is a Real Estate Broker?

what is real estate broker

A career in real estate seems right up your alley  — the freedom, the flexibility, and the income potential are all big draws.

But why does an independent contractor need to sign on with a broker

Let’s talk about how a real estate agent is different than a broker, the qualities of a successful broker, and what this next step in your career could look like.

What Is a Real Estate Broker?

A real estate broker is a real estate agent with additional education and certifications that allow them to supervise other agents.

Depending on the state you’re located in, a real estate broker could also be called:

  • Managing broker
  • Employer broker
  • Broker associate
  • Principal broker
  • Broker-in-charge
  • Full broker
  • Proprietor broker
  • Broker not on a provisional status

Depending on the size of the brokerage, a different title can indicate superiority over other real estate agents, or it could be a regional variation on the broker title. 

How Is a Broker Different From a Real Estate Agent?

If a real estate agent is a salesperson, then a broker is their supervisor. A broker can work independently or they can start building their own brokerage, but a real estate agent always works under a broker.

Brokers take on additional responsibilities as they manage a team, so their income isn’t solely tied to their home sales. They’ll also earn money from desk fees, the commission split from their agents, and marketing fees. If you’re interested in diversifying income streams, becoming a broker can help you move away from the transactional nature of real estate sales.

What Are the Qualities of an Awesome Real Estate Broker?

Whether you’re looking for a real estate broker, or you’re considering it as the next step in your career, these are some qualities of a successful real estate broker that set them apart from the average real estate agent. 


Not only do the best real estate brokers love to learn, but they also love to turn around and teach their team what’s new in the industry. A broker who has centered his or her leadership style around training will be able to hire and retain agents who are hungry to learn. Working within a teaching atmosphere allows agents to level up their skills and grow their business.

Business Skills

A real estate broker is also running a business, so they’ll need to have a top-down vision of the company. They’ll be running marketing campaigns that bring in leads for their agents, they’ll be tracking the brokerage’s finances, and they’ll be managing other agents. 

Organizational Skills

Being a little disorganized when you’re a solo agent just inconveniences you (and potentially your clients). Being disorganized when you’re managing a whole team will have an impact on everyone in the office. That’s why a real estate broker with ninja-level CRM skills is going to see more success than an unorganized one.

Networking/Interpersonal Skills

Newer agents who are able to plug into a wider network than their own will be able to hit the ground running. Brokers with a strong community presence who get out there and make a name for themselves increase not only the visibility of their brokerage but also the strength of their team’s network.

How Do You Become a Real Estate Broker?

As a state-regulated industry, real estate broker requirements will vary depending on location. Brokers must be licensed real estate agents before they are eligible to sit for the broker exam. This means agents who are interested in making the jump to a managing broker can feel confident knowing that every broker started out in the same position – as an agent.

General Broker Requirements

  • Length of Agent’s Experience- The minimum amount of time a broker needs to be a real estate agent before sitting for the broker exam is 1-3 years. 
  • Exam- Brokers have to take and pass the state broker’s exam with a minimum score set by the state’s regulatory board.
  • Education- States may waive real estate education requirements for a college degree, but they generally require you to take a minimum number of real estate education classes.
  • Background Check- Agents must pass a background check; felons can become brokers in some states and under certain conditions. 
  • Experience– A points system is applied based on the amount and types of property you’ve sold, and a minimum amount of points is required to sit for the broker’s exam. Not all states use a points system.
  • Fee- Broker’s fees include real estate membership fees, educational courses, licensing fees and exams, and brokerage dues. 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re interviewing real estate brokers looking for the right fit, or you’re considering becoming a broker, identifying what makes a successful broker will help you sort through your options. Working for a broker that emulates all of the qualities you’d like to personally develop will help you set a goal that you can work toward as you move along in your career. Realizing where you need to build out your skills in order to take that next step can help you identify areas of focus.

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